Friday, October 13, 2006

A Most Devoted Friend

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a web site selling reproductions of two Civil War monuments. Along with one that proved very familiar, I found another involving Antietam that I had never before seen. The accompanying text offered the story of a Newfoundland dog that had wandered into the camp of the 6th Wisconsin. Captain Werner Von Bachelle of the 6th adopted him and soon they became inseparable.

Puzzled at not having seen this unusual monument, I wrote to the National Park Service at Antietam Battlefield asking about its location. Of course, much to my disappointment, they responded that it did not actually exist. However, I eagerly read more of the story that the ranger kindly included in his e-mail.

He wrote that Captain Von Bachelle lead his men into the cornfield during the Battle of Antietam only to be slain as they advanced. During their withdrawal, his men tried to no avail to coax the dog who had accompanied his friend into returning with them to safety. Two days later, Union soldiers found the faithful canine lying on top of his companion, both dead on the field. Rufus Dawes, then a Major in the 6th Wisconsin, reportedly lamented, " is probable he is joined in death by his most devoted friend on earth." The ranger added that, although unverified, the story asserts that the dog now rests along with Captain Von Bachelle in the Antietam National Cemetery.

The above picture shows Von Bachelle's gravestone marking the spot where the Captain now rests peacefully with at least 4,775 of his comrades. He is perhaps with one other who now happily walks beside him throughout all eternity.

You can see the monument mentioned above at 11th P.V.I. Preservation Foundation



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